WolfesBlogArchives: August 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I HAD TO LET THE GOOD OLD TOYOTA GO on Monday. Sniff, sniff. After most of a year on foot, I'd saved up enough to get it fixed -- so I thought! But what the mechanic found within ... well, it was time to say goodbye.
Couldn't figure out why I felt so wiped out afterward. After all, I hadn't driven the thing in 8-1/2 months. It wasn't as if anything had changed. Jeez, Claire I told myself, people sell cars every day. What's the big deal? But I felt as if I'd abandoned an old friend.
Then I realized, I actually had. I bought that faithful old Toyota 16 years ago when it was brand new and I was still fully within the system. It drove me to the Randy Weaver trial and later to Ruby Ridge and the site of the shootings, up a long and rutted road. It took me to visit the Desert Hermitage and to be with my former Significant Sweetie. I had it longer than I ever owned any house I've lived in, longer than I was ever in a relationship with a man. I slept in it when I couldn't get a motel room, hauled sick dogs to the vet, and carried building materials for Cabin Sweet Cabin. That truck served me with barely a hiccup for all that time. But when it went, it went.
I'm still enjoying being footloose. Perhaps next year or the year after the time will be right again to own a vehicle, and when the time is right, the right vehicle will probably almost show up on my doorstep with an "Adopt Me" note pinned to its bumper. But for now, the gods, the Flow, or whatever you want to call it tell me to keep my feet on the ground and let the sun, rain, winds, and friends surround me.
I can sum up the last 8-1/2 months in one phrase: inconventient, but full of discovery and blessings.
Posted by Claire @ 05:32 PM CST [Link]
NINETY FIREARMS FOR EVERY 100 AMERICANS? Hey, now that's a good start! And of course, you and I are all doing our patriotic part to keep the U.S. Number One in citizen gun ownership, right?
Well, of course. Let's all pat ourselves on the back, then wave our Gadsden flags.
Now, if we could just manage a little corporate idiot control, the country might be in good shape. At least, even with our native idiots, we're ahead of the Mother Country in common sense.
Posted by Claire @ 05:19 PM CST [Link]
Monday, August 27, 2007
JENNIFER CAROLINA faces danger on a ranch outside of Hardyville. But perhaps she also holds a clue to a greater danger facing Hardyville itself.
Posted by Claire @ 05:58 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, August 25, 2007
POLITICKING AT THE COUNTY FAIR. I grew up in one of California's megalopoli, where the county fair was one monstrous commercial exhibition/carnival filled with anonymous strangers. The entertainers were the Beach Boys and Wayne Newton, who performed in an auditorium-sized arena. If anybody ever entered their apple pies or their 4H lambs in that fair (and I'm sure they must have), I managed to spend days there and miss them.
So I find it a weird trip to roam around our local mini-fairgrounds -- the size of a small horse pasture -- running into people I know and congratulating them on their ribbons for gladioli, fudge brownies, quilts, and horsemanship. It's just too damn quaint for words. But nice, in a way that the mega-fair never was.
Every year, the one small barn with the commercial and community-service exhibits is laid out exactly the same. The animal-rescue group I work with managed to snag the biggest prize booth just inside the doors. Our nearest neighbor is the local drug task force, which seems to think mug shots and close-up color photos of "meth mouth" (our latest moral panic) are highly entertaining. Outdoor associations rub shoulders with church groups. Banks inveigle people to save while the Cookie Lee jewlery-party lady and a western artist ask them to spend.
Every year the Republicans and the Democrats have back-to-back booths -- out of each other's sight, but rubbing each other's butts (which is such a good metaphor for the political reality). Every year, I walk past both booths with eyes averted. But this week I chanced to look up briefly as I passed the Rs. And there was Ron Paul. Well, his picture and bio posted on the wall. Other, less-important Rs, were there, too.
Noticing a box for a presidential primary straw poll, I grabbed a ballot and a pen and put an X next to Paul's name, muttering, "There's only one candidate up there who's worth a dime."
To that point, I hadn't looked at the two women behind the table (Rule of Thumb: Never make eye contact with anybody at a political booth if you value your freedom). But when I added, " ... And it's Ron Paul," I was suddenly swooped upon. [more]
Posted by Claire @ 01:19 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I JUST WATCHED The Lives of Others, the German film that beat out Pan's Labyrinth for best foreign-language film in this year's Oscars.
Wow. Though it's not in the visionary league of Pan's, it's a movie for freedom lovers, for sure.
East Germany, 1984; the fall of the Berlin Wall seems a universe away. For political and sexual reasons, the Stasi sets up 24-hour-a-day surveillance on a playwright, Georg Dreyman, and his beautiful, beloved actress-partner. Being watched -- or the fear of being watched, recorded, reported upon (perhaps by our closest friends and loved ones), and "detained" -- corrodes all lives and relationships, particularly in the always-suspect arts and the intellectual community. Captain Gerd Wiesler, the Stasi agent running the day-to-day spy operation, is a hard, by-the-book man with a bleak personal life. He begins distrusting Dreyman (as he distrusts everyone), but he also realizes -- and resents -- that the real purpose is to help a bigwig party official eliminate a sexual rival. As he watches this loving, sensuous, glowing couple with their artistic pursuits and their stifled creative hopes, he begins to change, and his loyalties to shift.
Reviews and the plot synopsis on the Amazon link (above) tell more than I could say. But there's one exchange at the very beginning of the film that shows the tenor of the times so well.
We're in a "temporary detention center" that looks like a high-security prison. A prisoner is brought into an interrogation room. The dialog begins something like this:
Prisoner: Why am I here? I haven't done anything wrong!
Interrogator: Prisoner 226, surely you don't believe the German Democratic Republic would arrest anyone arbitrarily, without cause? ... Why, merely believing such a ridiculous thing would be grounds for your imprisonment.
Posted by Claire @ 02:16 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
HOW OFTEN HAS THIS HAPPENED TO YOU? You make a statement that expresses plain old, garden-variety common sense -- only to have your listener gape as if you've uttered madness. Or heresy. Or some wild concept that would never have occurred to that person in a million years.
That happened to a friend of mine the other day. Commenting on a book about sex scandals in an exclusive private prep school, he observed, "Well, why wouldn't these kids be doing this when we've been drenching the whole culture in sex for the last 40 years?"
The person he was speaking with had never considered the connection.
Conversations like these seem to be the lot of political contrarians:
"Well, why wouldn't poor women have babies without stable fathers, since the government pays them to?"
"Iraq never threatened the United States."
"The more laws you pass, the more criminals you create."
"But ... that's nonsense!"
I could understand it if we were really saying something odd, something requiring investigation. I could "get" The Gape, for instance, if my friend had said, "Well, why wouldn't these kids be having wild sex when they're being pushed into early sexual maturity by artificial hormones and other environmental influences?" (a claim not proven).
But it's mystifying -- and sad -- to receive The Gape when you're merely stating the obvious. Every Gape is a reminder of how different we really are from those around us. Gapery has led my friend to coin a slogan (which I've urged him to use at the tagline of his new blog): "Common sense is the least common of all the senses."
Posted by Claire @ 04:17 PM CST [Link]
Monday, August 20, 2007
WITH TONGUE EVER-SO-SLIGHTLY IN CHEEK, The Old Polish Woman sent this photo and asked, "Why, Claire, were you at Hempfest in Seattle?"
I assure you that never, even in my best days, was I that ... um ... blonde.
Posted by Claire @ 06:18 PM CST [Link]
MEANWHILE, JUST WEST OF THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, Jennifer Carolina begins to learn valuable lessons, while Nat tries to thwart Gael Carolina's plans for a Hardyville makeover.
Posted by Claire @ 01:46 PM CST [Link]
Sunday, August 19, 2007
MY FAVORITE UNCLE IS DYING. Debra here. I just received word from my family that one of my favorite uncles has brain cancer. They give him less than a year to live, and less than 8 months of quality life.
I've known this man well from childhood. Because they lived less than an hour's drive away, our families always got together for holidays. Thanksgiving was the best because all my father's siblings had large families. So Thanksgiving afternoon was spent with dozens of cousins running through their HUGE old Victorian-style house, watching the Lions get creamed on TV, or playing pool in the basement (my uncle had his "bachelor pad" down there, complete with wet bar and smoked-mirror walls. Hey, it was the 70's!). Friday morning looked like Jonestown, with bodies sleeping anywhere they could find a horizontal surface.
My uncle loves his toys. They had a cottage on the lake for a long time, and every summer we'd manage to spend some time there. He taught me to water-ski, patiently circling the boat back to pick me up when I fell over (a rather frequent occurence). When they sold the cottage, they also sold the motorboat, but replaced it with a larger cruising boat. I had my first beer on that boat; still have the picture, too.
When my husband went through open heart surgery, my aunt and uncle were there for me. My aunt had recently undergone the same procedure, so they knew what we were going through. They sent cards, made phone calls and offered their support (in my family this is a big deal; we're weird in that we adore each other, but can go literally years without communicating).
I'm flying out in November to spend my last Thanksgiving with him. I only hope I don't spend the entire time bawling. I've never had anyone close to me die. My mind keeps shouting, "It's NOT FAIR!" And it's not.
It's not fucking fair at all.
Posted by Debra @ 08:30 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, August 18, 2007
BANK RUN! Countrywide Bank was one of the largest in the nation, recently ranked #16 in terms of deposits. They are bankrupt, like all modern banks. They lent out almost every penny deposited and lied to their customers, telling them they could have all their money back, anytime they wanted.
Silver here. If I ran my business the way every bank is run, I would (and should) go bankrupt and be prosecuted for fraud. The difference between Countrywide and BOA, Citi, or Chase isn't in their solvency; it is in the confidence of their customers.
Countrywide's customers have figured out that the bank has failed. Depositors are standing in line, knowing full well that those who get their money out first will do better than those who have to wait for months or years while fedgov "insurance" decides who to pay and how much.
If depositors fear bank runs, central banks are terrified of them. Bank runs signify a loss of confidence in the consensual mass hallucination we call money. If enough people start asking What Has Government Done to Our Money? (HTML) (PDF), (Hardback book) the jig is up. The colossal pump that moves wealth from the poor and thrifty masses to the privileged few in government and Wall Street would cease to function.
The pump has been running for nearly 100 years, but its days are surely numbered. The central bankers can create money, but they can't create confidence. [more]
Posted by Silver @ 09:27 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, August 16, 2007
JOEL SIMON OR J.K. ROWLING ... Joel Simon or J.K. Rowling? It was a dilemma when the library delivered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the same time Lulu.com and the post office delivered Joel's Songs of Bad Men and Good.
I opted for Simon, with no regrets.
So who are these "bad and good" men? That depends on your perspective. Some might say that the chief "bad" man of this smoothly written, never-stop novel is Michael Owens (or his alter-ego, known only as the god of war). [more]
Posted by Claire @ 02:45 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I RECEIVED MY COPY Of 101+ Things to Cook 'Til the Revolution yesterday, courtesy of amazing on-demand publisher Lulu.com. In the same package: Joel Simon's Songs of Bad Men and Good.
I should have my review of Joel's novel tomorrow or Thursday, soon as I finish re-reading it. (Lucky me, I read it months ago in manuscript; I'm refreshing my memory, and my enjoyment, on the re-read.) But I've just got to blog quick kudos on the wonderful cookbook. The specific kudoizations are ...
Posted by Claire @ 03:41 PM CST [Link]
REMEMBER THE FALL OF ROME warns David Walker, comptroller general of the US. Rome lasted 1,000 years, but less than half of that as a republic. It collapsed due to “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”. His simulations suggest a future of "“dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt." Read his unusually frank and sober assessment here. (PDF)
One thing Mr. Walker did not mention, dare not mention, is the role of continual debasement of the currency in both the fall of Rome and today. To understand why no politician (except Ron Paul) wants to talk about that problem, read Lew Rockwell's essay Reality vs. the State.
Posted by Silver @ 07:02 AM CST [Link]
Monday, August 13, 2007
WHAT IS GAEL ROBERTO CAROLINA UP TO? And who was that stranger he was seen with at the airport and the Harbibi ranch? Hardyvillians' suspicions are beginning to be confirmed. Meanwhile, Gael's errant child Jennifer has her own concerns -- mostly concerning with how to weasel her way out of those damned messy, noisy shooting lessons she was "sentenced" to take.
This week in Hardyville.
Posted by Claire @ 03:14 PM CST [Link]
FOR SELF-SUFFICIENT SORTS and fans of Backwoods Home magazine, I'm about to add four BHM-related blogs to the blogroll. They belong to this fabulous four:
Dave Duffy, esteemed editor/publisher.
David Lee, who specializes in alternative building techniques and technologies.
Jackie Clay who ... well, I just hate that woman. Hate her. She can grow a tomato plant in the middle of a Minnesota mosquito bog while gutting an elk while building a log home with one hand tied behind her back. The very nerve, being so versatile.
And John Silveira, poet, digger-outer of fascinating historical facts, and generally incredibly damn good writer (whose O.E. MacDougal stories helped inspire Hardyville).
Posted by Claire @ 03:07 PM CST [Link]
Friday, August 10, 2007
"EVEN IF CALLS NOT TAPPED, OUR FEAR IS." That's the headline on an article about a harmless (but politically minded) old woman, Edith Williams, who suspects the federal government is listening in on her calls.
Is she being spied on? Or isn't she? The author nails the conclusion:And that may be the real impact of the Orwellian Protect America Act of 2007.
After all, it doesn't matter whether the government actually is eavesdropping on Williams' phone calls - or yours or mine. Just knowing that some government goon can listen for any reason - or no reason at all - can make a person think twice about expressing dissent.
Williams has seen that before and knows how insidiously it happens. "Little by little, you lose your individual freedoms and you don't even notice it."
Then, she said, you wake up one morning, and all that's left is the fear.
Edith Williams grew up in Nazi Germany.
Posted by Claire @ 05:53 PM CST [Link]
HEH HEH. The New York Times notices Ron Paul. Though they still don't quite take him seriously, they can't help but notice his "Net power."
Posted by Claire @ 05:37 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, August 9, 2007
AMAZING. Newsweek has published a photo essay of gun owners and they are all normal people. No demonizing, no snide remarks, just photos of average people who take personal responsibility for protecting themselves and their families.
Silver here. Congress may ruin us, but I doubt they will ever disarm us.
Posted by Silver @ 07:01 AM CST [Link]
CHINA WILL NOT BE BULLIED but the bullies on capital hill continue their threats.
Silver here. The senators have advanced not one but two bills aimed at punishnig China for selling inexpensive goods that American consumers eagerly buy. The house has its own set of threats in the works.
The smug arrogance is simply amazing. "We in the Congress have to help China do what it knows it should do," oozed lifelong parasite Max Baucus. None of the criminals on the hill seem to know or care about the obvious parallels with the disastrous Smoot-Harley tariff. (described earlier.)
The Chinese know. They have saved well over a Trillion dollars, that's $1,000,000,000,000 FRNs, and it makes a monstrous big stick. Now they are rattling that stick.
"The Chinese central bank will be forced to sell dollars once the yuan appreciated dramatically, which might lead to a mass depreciation of the dollar." This and other blunt statements of fact was reported by The Telegraph in China threatens 'nuclear option' of dollar sales. Another Chinese noted that "Using them (Chinese dollar reserves) as a bargaining chip isn't something that can't be considered in response to some silly U.S. senators.'' High on the long list of reasons that the Chinese shouldn't suddenly make the yaun more valuable is that fact that it would cause huge losses in the value of that trillion-dollar account.
This may well be how the bullying federal government meets the end its arrogance and ignorance have earned. The Chinese hold the power to collapse the dollar at any time, and the congress has the power to anger the Chinese enough to do so.
Remember this logic as we suffer through 10-15 years of misery that will make the Great Depression look like a bad week: Congress thinks that average Americans have it too easy. They think that raising the price of nearly every manufactured good for sale in every retail store in the country by 40% is a good idea. Since higher prices help the people that bribe congressthings, congressthings conclude higher prices will help us all.
Is this the way the world ends?
Congress is adjourned for August. When they come back in September, will they trigger a financial collapse and ruin us all?
Brrrr. A chill has passed down my spine as I write. I'm buying more gold.
Posted by Silver @ 06:37 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
RON PAUL IS A GRAVE THREAT to the status quo. So much so that the tactics used against him are changing, a full 15 months before the election. Claire reported a full month ago that Ron Paul requested many earmarks (registration required) in the current budget process. His explanation was succinct: "I don't think they should take our money in the first place, but if they take it, I think we should ask for it back."
Silver here. I find Dr. Paul's explanation convincing because of his impeccable record on opposing federal taxes and spending.
Yesterday the War Street Journal discovered this non-story, and attacked him in an editorial. The editorial page of the War Street Journal has long been little more than a mouthpiece for the bloodthirsty war criminals infesting the White House. The "editors," who might as well be fax machines printing dispatches from our veep's secret bunker, have no problem with the executive spending $2-3 billion a week in endless wars, but find fault that a libertarian congressman would dare to ask for some of his constiutents' money.
I find this extremely encouraging. Gandhi taught that "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Ron Paul has been ignored by the gatekeepers in the mainstream media, despite winning nearly every on-line poll, including ABC's poll on last Sunday's debate. Lew Rockwell points out that Ron wins when the poll is everyone on the planet with an internet connection. Dr. Paul was famously ridiculed by the thug Giuliani for daring to suggest that US government behavior might have something to do with the 9/11 attacks. Now he is being attacked by the mouthpiece of the neocons.
Ron Paul is the underdog, and there is no need to fear.
Posted by Silver @ 06:37 AM CST [Link]
Monday, August 6, 2007
MORE GREAT MINDS, says my partner-in-project as he sends me the link to this column on fear and courage (topics that he and I have been much concerned with).
Once again, fear requires mere reaction while courage, as Karen Kwiatkowski recognizes, requires independent action and thought.
The bizarre story that begins her exhortation is a shameful thing. In a free country the cop involved (and all who back him) wouldn't be trusted to shovel horse poop in a parade and would justifiably be shot by outraged defenders of the Bill of Rights for entering private property on such a queasy cause.
Posted by Claire @ 04:03 PM CST [Link]
IN HARDYVILLE, vandalizing, thieving, lying, hell-bent-for-shortcuts Jennifer Carolina gets what's coming to her.
Posted by Claire @ 03:53 PM CST [Link]
Sunday, August 5, 2007
I'VE JUST ORDERED MY COPIES OF Joel Simon's Songs of Bad Men and Good and 101+ Things to Cook 'Til the Revolution (aka the TCF Cookbook), both from Lulu.com.
I've already read Joel's novel in manuscript form and hope to blog a review of it next week. In the meantime I'll just repeat (with a shout) what I said before: This story is even better, and better written than Walt's Gulch. You can order it on Lulu as either a trade paperback hardcopy or a download. But either way, get it!
The cookbook, I'm still dying to see. It was created by a group of dedicated TCFers, with contributions by dozens more (including yours truly). I'm not sure of all the people who ought to get credit for this work and I don't want to leave anybody out. But I know for sure that Pagan and Thunder had a lot to do with it. And don't let me forget Dare2BFree! Everybody, all of you -- much back-patting is in order. BTW, this one's also available in hardcopy or download. But you really need a hardcopy to keep on a kitchen shelf.
While on the subject of books, I've got two more I'd like to share. Read 'em both this week and got a lot out of 'em. Both are by the same author, Rich Cohen.
Posted by Claire @ 02:36 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, August 2, 2007
DAMNFINE ARTICLE BY RON PAUL:While fear itself is not always the product of irrationality, once experienced it tends to lead away from reason, especially if the experience is extreme in duration or intensity. When people are fearful they tend to be willing to irrationally surrender their rights.
The person who sent me this link is working with me on a large freedom project and (thanks to his creative thought) we've placed huge emphasis on fear and courage -- fear as a tool for control; courage for taking back our own lives.
"Great minds," he comments.
Posted by Claire @ 03:09 PM CST [Link]
I DON'T BELIEVE ANYONE SHOULD EVER HAVE TO OPT OUT of marketing, data-mining, or credit schemes. Businesses should have to get our consent before using our private information for their own commercial purposes. Ah well. Since the reality is otherwise, the World Privacy Forum has attempted to limit the madness of having to opt out of every damn thing by publishing the 10 most important opt outs.
Some of these are good. But I'd be leery of their #1 choice, the fedgov's National Do Not Call list. Yeah, "preserve privacy" by giving your phone number to the government and telling them you don't like snooping. That'll protect you, shure 'nuff. The fact that the fedlist exempts politicians is the maraschino cherry on the poison cupcake. Otherwise, not a bad list from the WPF if you're tired of being barraged by junk calls and junk mail.
(A find, once again, by privacy maven Richard Smith.)
Posted by Claire @ 03:01 PM CST [Link]
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
TCF Cookbook is now AVAILABLE!!!
Raving Reporter Thunder here.
Just wanted to let you all know that the official, genuine, all-natural, not available in stores, imitation, 1st pseudo-annual TCF cookbook is now available!! Get your copy today!
Posted by Thunder @ 05:23 PM CST [Link]
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